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Americans Say They Can't Save Enough for Retirement

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Monday, February 24, 2020   

CONCORD, N.H. -- With the 2020 New Hampshire primary in the history books and the field of Democratic Party presidential contenders narrowing, many Americans approaching retirement are assessing where candidates stand on Social Security, pension programs and other retirement options.

The federal government's "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households" finds nearly 40% of American households couldn't afford a surprise $400 expense -- which means tires, a medical emergency or even a minor home repair are out of reach.

Casey McCabe, director of the New Hampshire Retirement Security Coalition, says that's a concern, because the U.S. economy depends on retirees having stable financial resources.

"And the ability for them to be secure in their retirement also allows them to go out and support the local and state economy, because they have the income to do so," McCabe points out.

A second study by the National Institute on Retirement Security, says 70% of Americans feel the average worker can't save enough for retirement.

At the same time, pensions -- available mostly to public employees -- have been shown to have a greater impact than other retirement plans in reducing poverty among retirees.

Despite ongoing efforts to reduce or eliminate pension benefits for teachers, other school employees and state and local government workers, McCabe says pension benefits offer the strongest guarantee for retirement income security.

She argues that retirement benefits shouldn't be seen only as an expense, but also an asset -- because every dollar paid out in pension benefits supports $1.40 in total economic activity in New Hampshire.

"The mind set around retirement being an expense really needs to shift, because what is happening is folks are entering retirement with no savings, and then looking around and sort-of saying, 'How am I going to survive?'" McCabe points out.

The report also found 84% of Americans think politicians "are out of touch" with how hard it is to save for retirement.

Last year, New Hampshire lawmakers approved a pension increase 1.5% for state government workers -- the first increase to the pension system since 2010.

Disclosure: National Public Pension Coalition contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Energy Policy, Environment, Peace. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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